One of the most momentous milestones in life is getting married, but planning a wedding and tying the knot can be overwhelming. When you join your life with someone else, there are many practical decisions that are often overlooked, so once the rings are on, vows are shared, and marriage license signed, here are some necessary steps to take:
Change Your Last Name
While some people choose to keep their maiden names, many wives take their husband’s last name, some husbands take their wife's last name, and others both take a new name (be it a hyphenated combination of the two names or a new name altogether). If you decide to change your last name, you’ll have to update it on dozens of documents from your Social Security card and driver’s license to bank accounts and credit cards.
Your first stop should be the Social Security Office, as many other institutions will require an updated card to change any other documents or accounts. Once you have your updated Social Security card, head over to the DMV to revise your driver’s license. Here are some other places you’ll need to notify regarding your new name:
- Your employer (for payroll purposes)
- Post office
- Utilities, phone, Internet, and cable companies (or anywhere you have ongoing bills)
- Credit card companies
- Investment account providers
- Mortgage company
- Insurance companies
- Doctor’s offices
- Voter registration office
- Your attorney (to update your will/living trust)
- Passport office
Update Your Beneficiaries
Now that you’re married, you will want to make sure you name your spouse as your primary beneficiary. You will also want to name a contingent beneficiary in the event that your spouse passes away before you do. Your previous primary beneficiary, such as your parents, may become your contingent beneficiaries, but you will need to fill out the paperwork to properly designate them as such. Review all documents that require a beneficiary, including your will, insurance policies, and retirement and investment accounts.
You may think this is something that can be taken care of later, but don’t delay too long. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our other daily duties that we forget to update our beneficiaries altogether. Too often, I’ve seen people neglect their beneficiaries and not even realize who they have listed. Make sure that those you love are taken care of in the event of a tragedy.
Determine How You’ll Manage Your Finances
Like last names, couples have several options for handling their finances. Hopefully, you talked about your finances before you got married. Now that the wedding is over, it’s time to finalize your decisions and take action.
A vast majority of married couples choose to merge their assets. This can make it easier to manage your finances and be on the same page. However, you may decide to go a different route. For example, you may choose to open a joint bank account to manage shared bills but continue contributing to the individual accounts you had prior to marriage. If so, you’ll want to decide who takes ownership of which bills and how the accounts interact with one another.
It’s also critical to create a budget together and agree on how you will spend and save your shared assets. Perhaps one of you will contribute to a 401(k) while the other contributes to a Roth 401(k) account. You may choose to ask each other before making big purchases or allow each other a monthly “allowance” to spend as you wish.
Consult With A Financial Advisor
Marriage brings a lot of change to your life, especially in the area of finances. In fact, money is the leading cause of stress in marriages because money is a touchy subject and often brings up intense emotions and differing opinions.
Because of this, you may want to seek guidance from a financial advisor who can serve as an objective partner. An advisor can help you stay focused on the right goals, articulate your financial desires and needs, and create a strategy that incorporates both of your values and objectives. An advisor can also walk you through how much you’ll need for retirement, what it will take to purchase a home, and more. Additionally, an advisor can help you identify new opportunities and offer a fresh perspective.
As much as you may be enjoying the bliss of the honeymoon phase, don’t neglect these four steps that will help you start your marriage off on the right foot financially. I want to see both your marriage and your finances thrive, so let me help you navigate this important life change. I’d be more than happy to meet with you and your spouse if you have questions about your new financial situation. Set up an appointment with me today at (626) 529-8347 or email me directly at [email protected].
Ricky Biel, CRPC® is a wealth manager with Haydel, Biel & Associates, an independent financial advisory firm serving individuals and families near Pasadena, California. The firm was founded in 2004 by Chris Haydel and Ricky Biel with a desire to provide unbiased, client-centered, community-based financial advice. Together, they have built a practice that has grown into a family of caring, smart professionals committed to blending proven investment methodologies with creative financial technologies that make it easier than ever to accomplish your goals. They strive to keep things simple and fun to give their clients peace of mind and alleviate financial stress. HBA Wealth takes care of their clients’ needs first and foremost and goes the extra mile to make their clients’ finances grow. To meet and see how the HBA Wealth team may be able to help, contact them today at (626) 529-8347 or email Ricky directly at [email protected].